New Straits Times (13/05/2020) - IT has been 20 years since the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) embarked on its journey to boost the country's oil palm research and development and excellent services.
Hundreds of breakthrough technological innovations have been developed and commercialised for the betterment of the oil palm industry.
Equipped with state-of-the-art research facilities, MPOB, the result of a merger between the Palm Oil Research Institute of Malaysia (Porim) and the Palm Oil Registration and Licensing Authority (Porla) on May 1, 2000, has successfully invented and launched 667 technologies encompassing all sectors of the oil palm industry, and 30.4 per cent of them have been commercialised with a market value of RM3 billion.
These breakthrough solutions that have been adopted by industry players have benefited the oil palm industry.
In the upstream, our inventions are aimed at improving oil palm yields further. These include planting materials, beneficial plants and fogging formulation for bagworm control and rotting fungi to accelerate biodegradation of oil palm trunks, and bio-fertilisers for treatment in controlling diseases.
MPOB's inventions for the plantation operations, such as the Cantas harvesting tool, have improved worker productivity and plantation management efficiency.
Our advances in breeding and biotechnology research have led to the development of a range of elite oil palm planting materials, namely the PS1 to PS13 series, through a vast collection of mother palms.
These materials have enabled planters to produce dwarf palms and palms with longer fruit stalk that allow for easier harvesting. These, along with palms with increased bunch index and fruit with thinner shells, have resulted in higher yields.
Meanwhile, our genome research enhances crop breeding and tissue culture with the development and application of effective diagnostic tools. In this area, MPOB has achieved significant breakthroughs and established itself as the world's first institute to successfully developed and share the genome of oil palm species and identify crucial markers, such as fruit colour and shell thickness, to improve the crop's traits.
MPOB's Palm Oil Milling Technology Centre, equipped with modern milling technology and plant automation, enables us to carry out research, development and commercialisation of milling technology, such as continuous sterilisation for efficient milling operations.
We also made breakthroughs in the nutritional properties of palm oil, used mainly in food application through our research and collaboration with renowned research institutions.
Clinical studies were undertaken in collaboration with research institutes, such as the Royal Marsden Cancer Centre in the United Kingdom and Ohio State University, Indiana University and Wayne State University in the United States, as well as local universities, in areas related to neuroprotection, radioprotection, stroke, liver and renal diseases.
We carved another milestone when the world's first Integrated Biodiesel Plant in Pasir Gudang, Johor, was unveiled in 2006 using the technology developed by MPOB.
Carotino Sdn Bhd's biodiesel plant is the first in the world that produces normal palm biodiesel and winter-grade fuel that meet the stringent European and US specifications. Since then, our homegrown technology and expertise in developing biodiesel plants are sought after by countries such as South Korea and Thailand.
Subsequently, MPOB's research and development, as well as extensive trial projects using a blend of palm biodiesel and petroleum diesel have enabled the implementation of B5, B7, B10 and B20 biofuel for the transportation sector. These moves strengthen the price of crude palm oil and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions amounting to 3.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents annually.
MPOB has developed formulations for palm-based detergents, personal care and cosmetics, polyurethane and palm-based industrial products, which have been commercialised by local companies. Recently, it has formulated a hand sanitiser capable of moisturising and protecting the skin.
The sanitiser, formulated with 70 per cent ethanol and a thickening agent, uses palm-based ingredients such as glycerine and Vitamin E. It is our small contributions to frontliners in the battle against Covid-19.
Palm-based oleochemical products are also biodegradable and environmentally friendly.
MPOB will continue to provide leadership and impetus in developing a diversified, globally competitive and sustainable oil palm industry in its quest to become the premier "Nobel Laureate"-producing research and development institution in Malaysia.
The writer is the director-general of Malaysia Palm Oil Board.
Read more at https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/05/592005/20-years-excellence